Friday, June 30, 2017
I am always amazed when June 30 comes around, because, for me, it marks the year's half way point. So much has happened in the first half--marriage, retirement, the possibility that I may again reach 100 in the number of books read this year, that it is my sincere hope that the second half, which includes my birthday and Christmas, will be as tranquil as the first half was eventful.
The bitchiness of "The Little Foxes!" The Midwest of Inge's "Picnic!" The fervency of the fever dream that was 1971's "The Beguiled."
Not to mention Neva Small, "Henry, Sweet Henry," Marcia Kramer, and all the other happenings in just the first half of this year.
So, congrats, girls, we made it halfway through!
Hope the second runs smoothly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I watched this Season 6 episode, I was struck by the parallels to the Season 2 classic. For Season 6, it was probably one of the best episodes, but, at least for me, it did not have quite the emotional resonance of "The Sleepover."
Still, the parallels are so glaring, they can be listed.
1. The crime takes place in Chestnut Hill.
2. Instead of a group of 12-year-old girls, it is 12-year-old boys.
3. Jarrod Bailey, as the young Danny Finch, is a dead ringer for Abigail Mavity as Rita Baxter.
4. The group's leader, and counterpart to Brandi Beaudry, is Chuck Pierce.
5. Bobby Kent is this episode's Ariel Shuman.
6. Seth Lundgren is the Tiffany O'Connell of the piece.
Like Tiffany, what happened, back in 1969, when they were 12, leaves him an emotional wreck. He has schizoid affect disorder, which links him to another 'Sleepover' character, Brandi's brother, Neil Beaudry. Though Neil and Tiffany fare better than Seth, who kills himself by hanging, via a belt, in the squad interrogation room.
Just as I had no sympathy for Ariel, I have none for Bobby Kent. He is so clearly a pathetic acolyte, in childhood and adulthood, just like Ariel. He is too afraid to have an opinion of his own, of being his own person, that he walks constantly on egg shells, fearing what other people think. Get a life, loser!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The irony is he does not turn out to be the killer, though, had I written this script, he would have been.
Instead, the honor goes to Chuck Pierce, the Brandi of the group. On their way home from a rocket launch, supposedly at night, though the sequence was clearly shot in the day (shades of "Splendor In The Grass!"), the boys get lost, and can only find their way home by jumping across a ravine, below which a winding river flows. They all tease Danny about not being able to make it, but the boy, who, earlier, demonstrates a fighting spirit, when taking on Bobby's half brother, Malcolm, makes it, and, with the others coming around to him as a group leader, Chuck, who HAS to be Top Dog, like Brandi has to be Queen Bee, begins to resent Danny usurping his role, and is scared stiff of making the leap. When the others go off, Danny stays with Chuck, assuring him he will make it. Unfortunately, Chuck does not, and Danny, more credit to him, dives in, to save him. They flow down river, near a more grounded shore, and Chuck gets out. Danny has lost his glasses, so his vision is not good, and his energy is waning. He asks Chuck for help. Whether what happens next would have, had Danny not mentioned to Chuck that he would tell no one of his fear of jumping, is debatable. Chuck is a nasty, arrogant piece of work, as bad as an adult as when a child, and I think he was out to kill Danny, once he saw his opportunity.
So, back in 1969, Chuck kills Danny by blunt force trauma, with an enormous tree branch. It kills him, but when he is found, there is no water in the lungs, so he did not drown.
Chuck gets his, in the present, and is hauled off to the slammer. Too bad that Bobby Kent wasn't, for being such a panty waste.
Someone on the show's writing staff must have recalled "The Sleepover," and how audiences loved it. So, they got the idea of redoing it--with boys. The results are not quite as successful, but one performance is the real thing.
Jarrod Bailey, as Danny Finch, is the most empathetic victim since Abigail Mavity as Rita Baxter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let me start, girls, by stating outright that whatever I say on here about "Reflections In A Golden Eye," viewed at BAM on Wednesday, will be a lot more entertaining than actually sitting through the picture. It moves at a snail's pace; the iguana slinking across the screen at the start of John Huston's rather good 1964 film of Tennessee Williams' play, "The Night Of The Iguana," certainly moved faster!!!!!! Huston directed 'Reflections,' though I am not sure he was the right one for it.
The sad thing is this film had enormous potential. Had the pace been picked up, and the excesses increased, it might have been a camp classic. Had Kazan, in the Fifties--allowing he could get on the screen as much as the story contains--directed this film, in Gothic black and white, not unlike 'Streetcar,' it might have been a screen masterpiece.
Instead, it's a static, plodding film that moves at an all-too leisurely pace. And the film, while it seems to embrace Carson McCullers' world of the deformed and grotesque, still manages to downplay it, by failing to convey its poetic lyricism.
Certain scenes have to be seen to be believed. The sight of a back naked Elizabeth Taylor walking up the stairs must have sent viewers of the day--my parents' generation, though you can bet my parents never saw THIS!!!!!!!!--into paroxysms of shock, sending them straight to their liquor cabinets, after locking themselves in their suburban enclaves. Marlon Brando prancing around like some closet case queen trying to be God knows who as he makes love to himself in the mirror, cruises the Army base for soldiers, and mistakenly thinks he is so hot--which he is so NOT, especially with that fey blonde hair--that any cruiser on the base would come looking for him, is so preposterously silly, I defy anyone to view these scenes without laughing.
Now, you may well ask, what a gorgeous thing like Elizabeth Taylor is doing on an Army base? According to the story, she was an Army brat, so it was the only life for her. But with that hair, and those gowns, no wonder Robert Forrester, in his screen debut as Private L.G. Williams, is confused. He can't make up his mind whether he wants to bed Marlon Brando, or be
Elizabeth Taylor. From the way he is shown fetishizing and almost trying on her garments, it was clear, to me, he had made his decision. No wonder Marlon gets jealous and shoots him.
That's right. The whole thing revolves around a murder by a jealous closet case, who was upset the object of his repressed desire went to his wife's room, instead of his. Hey, anyone who is remotely gay, would go to Liz' room first. Marlon's character just once more demonstrates the danger of closet cases.
Now, aside from Zorro David, whose Anacleto just about steals the movie, there are two other fascinating performances. Julie Harris, as Allison Langdon, whose character has an interesting history. Having had a nervous breakdown over suffering a miscarriage, she cuts off her nipples with garden shears--this could only come from the fervid imagination of Carson McCullers, darlings!!!!!!!!!--and forms a symbiotic relationship with Anacleto, whom she has more in common with than her husband. I LOVE when Anacleto throws the drink at the boor at Leonora's (Taylor) party, but I have to question the casting of Harris--her acting is brilliant, but how can a woman with hardly any chest dismember her nipples?
It boggles the mind.
Horses as sexual symbols are used throughout. Marlon Brando's ejaculatory horse ride had me laughing out loud, and it is great to see Taylor astride, 23 years following "National Velvet." I almost walked out when Brando beat Firebird, but he gets his when Taylor whacks him across the face with a whip! Another laugh out loud moment, for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Irvin Dugan gives a fine, subtle performance, as the real gay on the base, Captain Murray Weincheck, who has never been promoted above this rank, and who the Army is kicking out for being gay. I mean, oh my God, he reads Proust, and serves tea to the Army wives!!!!!!!!!!!! Listen, if many gay men today tried to read Proust, or even pick up a book, it would be a miracle! Carson McCullers' world is far removed from ours. I prefer hers, frankly.
Poor Brian Keith looks so confused. He is married to Julie Harris here, on hiatus from "Family Affair," so he does not know what to do. So he comes off as dull and uninteresting, until toward the end, when he reveals what I knew all along--he had the hots for Anacleto!!!!!!!!! Those two could paint some fine water colors, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The problem with this film is John Huston. He gets the surface aspects of the story on the screen, but not the psychological underpinnings. That was Kazan's specialty, not Huston's. And the point-counterpoint of the characters is overlooked. Leonora and Private Williams are outcasts of sorts, because both are rather simpleminded, but that is not how Taylor and Robert Forrester play them. Anacleto and Allison may be soul mates, but, when she couldn't give birth, Anacleto was adopted, so he should be more like a child, than a pet. Zorro David is well beyond childhood, and then some. He is probably the same age as Julie Harris!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
To think what this film could have been, and isn't. The only thing missing is a Bobbie Gentry soundtrack.
Just look at that Method pose, from Julie Harris! This is more of what the film should have been.
You have to hand it to Carson McCullers. She knew better than anyone how to poeticize the grotesque, and deformed actors must have loved her, since she wrote roles they could finally be cast in!
Too bad she didn't write "Freaks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Now, all you on here know how fascinated I am by child killers. So, while scanning YouTube, and happening upon "Family Sins--A Lifetime TV Movie About Killer Child Sibling Rivalry," I had to watch. I should have known better.
This movie is all confused. Being Lifetime, it actually has a happy ending, when, in reality, there is no happy ending, in store, for this boy and his family.
The story involves the picture perfect Williams family, played by stalwarts of the day, James Farentino and Jill Eikenberry. Their two sons, Bryan and Keith, are played by Thomas Wilson Brown, and Andrew Bednarski. Mr. Bednarski manages to inject some feeling into the role, making him the only character you feel for. As the disturbed Bryan, Brown shows he has the ability to go far with this role, but the script lets him down.
The film cannot make up its mind if it is about child psychosis, or poor parenting. When James Farentino was handed the script, he must have been given only one direction--"play hateful Dad." Because that is all he does, without getting to the root of this hatefulness. He makes some references to when he was his sons' ages, and his father, but not enough to get a credible back story on him. As the wife, Jill Eikenberry knows the score, but married to this jerk, has to play it passive. I am telling you, when Bryan killed that rabbit, that was a signal, when something should have been done. Maybe, then, Keith would not have drowned.
Don't expect "Leave Her To Heaven," from the drowning scene, darlings. There is no ravishing color photography, or Gene Tierney, to enhance things.
The excuse given is so clichéd. Bryan is a bookish, computer type, while younger Keith is the athlete, so Daddy pays more attention to him, which Bryan resents. Now, I could relate to Bryan's situation, though I did not have a younger sibling. I had resentment, but it never boiled over into murder. Instead, I worked to prove myself, wishing someone would validate me intellectually, even wishing, because of the town I lived in, I could go to Hebrew school and study a new language and culture, as mine was not serving me. But murder???????????? Never!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The happy family is reunited, at the end! Are you kidding me? Eikenberry should have belted Farentino across the kisser, leaving him bleeding in the street, and driven Bryan to the nearest youth psych facility, taken the key, and locked him up! Then she should have driven off into the sunset!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Once again, I allowed a compelling subject to over rule my critical acumen.
It must be the Summer heat, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The year is nearly halfway over, and I have not yet hit upon the best book of the year. But I can tell you that "Secrets Of Southern Girls," by Haely Harrigan, will be remembered by myself as the worst book I read this year.
Even though it reads quickly, it seems to run on a bit.
This shows the consequences of being tantalized. Because the author had a good idea.
Julie Portland, now a New York career woman, returns to her hometown of Lawrence Mill, Mississippi, to seek answers to a ten year old mystery, involving the death of her best friend, Rebecca "Reba" McLeod.
The premise is a good one. The problem is Harrigan has no writing style to carry it out. There is nothing about her sentence structure to compel one to read this, the plot contrivances and twists are so predictable, and the payoff, if one can call it that, is not worth the time invested in reading to get to it.
This is a piss poor work of fiction, and I am sorry I read it. But, at least, I can save my girls from the torment. And Haley, dear, do NOT quit your day job!
Southern girls' REAL secrets are likely to be far more compelling and disturbing than these.
I really wish someone had written a better version of this story. I believe it could have been done.
The wrong person just got there, first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Those out there who so look forward to my Bitch Of The Week posts, may wonder why Diane Zamora has not turned up yet. I agree it is about time, so now Diane gets her due.
Once upon a time, Diane was a United States Naval Academy midshipman. Thank God, she is not serving our country! She had a fiancé, David Graham, who definitely allowed himself to be pussy whipped by Di, but, as things turned out, was it really worth it????????????
Obviously, Diane had her security issues. On the night of November 4, 1995, David gave an acquaintance, Adrianne Jessica Jones, a ride home, and--get this--had sex with her. Real dumb, guy. Because he had no idea Diane was a psycho.
When Di found out about this, she demanded, enraged that David get rid of Adrianne by killing her.
Now, Diane did her part, too. David lured Adrianne out, saying they were going for a ride to a quiet place, so they could talk. What the girl did not know was what was in store for her, and that Diane was hiding in the back.
At the location, Diane popped up, hitting Adriane on the head with some weights. The dazed Adrianne had sense enough to realize she was in danger, and ran for her life. But Diane, screaming like a banshee Medea, egged David on to kill her, until he did, shooting her twice, and he did.
It is believed the combination of Diane and David was a lethal mix, not unlike Brady and Hindley. If they had not met, Adrianne might be alive. However, at some point one of these sickos would have crossed paths with the right lethal person to create this psychotic cocktail.
Both are now imprisoned, and hopefully will stay there for the rest of their lives. If that bitch, Diane, gets up for parole, I hope Adrianne's supporters do something to stop it.
Not only is Diane this week's winner of The Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award, her story has been referenced and dramatized countless times on such programs as "The X-Files," "Cold Case," not to mention a 1987 TV movie, "Love's Deadly Triangle--The Texas Cadet Murder." An actress who went nowhere, Holly Marie Combs, played Diane.
Bitches are out there, darlings, and sooner or later, I catch up with them!
Welcome, Diane, to my special Rogue's Gallery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
I had been promising myself to read "The Orphan Master's Son," for years. After finally getting my chance, I can say not only is it stimulating, entertaining, and politically prescient, it is the most beautifully written political thriller since "The Manchurian Candidate."
Layer upon layer is piled on. An opera singer, a movie actress, mistaken identities, references to "Casablanca" (yes!), the political terrain of North Korea--all within the context of a novel. No wonder Adam Johnson's book won the Pulitzer Prize!
Because this beautifully written work is the real thing, not like David Baldacci, and his ilk!!!!!!!!!!!!! I sat mesmerized, unable to tear myself from the chair, until I read the last sentence of this book.
I cannot praise it highly enough. This is Beach Reading For Brains!!!!!!!!!
And not to be missed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, my God, darlings, Pamelyn Ferdin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Darleen Carr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, you know how sacred "Gone With The Wind" is to me. Scarlett's "As God is my witness...." speech was my mantra for living during adolescence, and even beyond. But there has been another great Civil War movie, lurking out there in the shadows, and I am here to bring it out into the light.
Yesterday, at BAM, I saw a screening of the original, 1971 film, "The Beguiled." This is the real, bloody thing, girls, not the picture poesy thing I am certain Sofia Coppola's remake--which I intend to see, and report on, here--is bound to be.
To say that "The Beguiled" ratchets up "Gone With The Wind" to extremes is to do both stories an injustice. Both have a feel for the grittier, more realistic aspects of Civil War-time; both have women and domestics, alike, working in the fields to survive--and they do it in their bare feet, in "The Beguiled,"-- and the visuals here, as in the 1939 film, have a lost kind of grandeur.
But comparisons end there. There is no Tara, here, simply the Martha Farnsworth Seminary For Young Girls, which is one place I want to be at!!!!!!!!!!!! The headmistress is Geraldine Page, at her most eccentric, mannered, every tic on display, and let me tell you she is absolutely riveting and brilliant. No one could mix psychosis and sexual repression like Miss Page.
Clint Eastwood, during his transition period, plays the wounded Yankee soldier, and let me tell you, I have never seen him more scared than when he realizes he is faced with the prospect of acting opposite Geraldine Page!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That is the least of his worries. Clint at his hottest, locked in with a bunch of hormonal women, trapped in an ante-bellum dwelling, where sexual tensions are bound to erupt. Who could ask for anything more?
One thing I have always wanted to know. What did women of this time do when it was "their time?" Did they just use what was about? There were no tampons back then, darlings! Was this the origin of the phrase "on the rag?"
Getting back to Geraldine Page; she actually was from the South, having been born in Missouri. Everyone in this film is so gloriously over wrought that I am convinced Don Siegel, the director, had each actress chart out their menstrual cycle, and shoot their signature scenes on days when they were actually "on the rag!!!!!!!!!!!"
Girls, "The Beguiled" is full of surprises. A dreamy three-way fantasy between Eastwood, Page and Hartman made it into this film, and, for the time, I was surprised it did. As I was about the not so subtle depiction of an incestuous relationship between Page's Martha Farnsworth, and her brother, Miles, called Robert, in the novel.
The movie is fundamentally faithful to Thomas Cullinan's novel. One character--younger sister, Harriet Farnsworth--has been eliminated, and sort of combined, with Elizabeth Hartman's Edwina. Who, in the book, had Negro blood, though no mention of that is made here. As Edwina, Hartman does her signature thing--the fragile, repressed spinster with passive aggressive steel running in her veins.
Let's get back to Pamelyn Ferdin, and Darleen Carr!!!!!!!!!! Ferdin should have received a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work here. Not only is she onscreen more than I expected, she delivers a performance of unusual range, going from charm and tenderness to malign femininity in a flash! Once her turtle, Randolph, meets his demise, at the hands of Eastwood, the venom at which Ferdin screams out "I hate you!" is overpowering, and undeniable. When she says "I understand," regarding the dinner mushrooms, this child's darkness flows deeper than any adult on the place. And if looks could kill, the one she gives Eastwood at the dinner table is chilling.
As for Darleen, well, there are those Charmian eyes, and her running about the place in furious self-righteousness, as if she were auditioning to take Page's place as head of the Farnsworth school! Whoever casted this movie did a brilliant job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And how about Mae Mercer as Hallie, called Hattie, in the novel? She gives an honest portrayal of a woman of the times, good enough to step from the pages of Toni Morrison.
Girls, this film will remind you of how hot Clint Eastwood once was. I had actually forgotten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You have to see this "Beguiled" in all its gooey, Gothic, glorious grandiosity. It is certain to pale beside Coppola's more pasteurized process take.
Velveeta pales beside the real thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, June 24, 2017
"David Copperfield," both the novel and Selznick's 1935 film, are why I am today a Dickensian. I wonder how many people recall the 1935 film, directed by the great George Cukor, and demonstrating, on Selznick's part, the kind of reverence for a literary work, which would culminate, four years later, with "Gone With The Wind."
This is a period film, in every sense of the word. The period is both the Nineteenth Century world of Dickens, and that of 1935 Hollywood. The opening sequence of this film is almost silent movie camp, and yet there is a purpose to it. From start to finish, from credits to end titles, with cast, costumes, and settings, not to mention script, Selznick's film is like opening an expensive Victorian edition of the novel. No other Dickens adaptation, save David Lean's 1947 "Great Expectations," can make that claim.
Selznick assembled a galaxy of fine actors--including a brilliant Maureen O'Sullivan as Dora Spenlow--but, even if one is not partial to Dickens, there are two scenes that should be witnessed for the brilliance of the acting alone. Even the actors who surround them, and don't speak, are locked into their roles, but the scenes involve veteran Edna Mae Oliver, and, in a surprising, deeply moving dramatic performance, W.C. Fields.
Both scenes are retributory. The first is when Aunt Betsey Trotwood lets the Murdstones (who played, with full venality, by Basil Rathbone and Violet Kemble Cooper) have it, for their abusive treatment of both David and his mother. The second is when Wilkins Micawber, played by Fields, does the same to Uriah Heep, brilliantly played by Roland Young, for his treatment of Judge Wickfield, and his daughter, Agnes, beautifully played by Lewis Stone and Madge Evans.
Edna Mae Oliver's scene should come as no surprise, considering her versatility as an actress. While some may prefer her "catfight" with Blanche Yurka, as Madame DeFarge, in Selznick's 1936 "A Tale Of Two Cities," I prefer her understated, deadly cunning, in "David Copperfield." Her vitriol is the match the Murdstones finally meet, and Oliver's delivery is sharp and chilling. And the Murdstones know they have met their match. Good riddance!
But W.C. Fields is a revelation throughout. However, when he dishes it out to Uriah Heep, it is his finest moment on film. Why he never did more dramatic roles I will never understand. Nor, though nominated for Best Picture Of 1935, I cannot understand how a single actor from this "David Copperfield" did not receive a single Oscar nomination.
How I wish I could show, on here, these two brilliant scenes. They may be out
there, but I have failed to find them.
And, as revival houses become history, I fear this film will be forgotten.
It shouldn't. It shows that, once upon a time, there was an artistry to how Hollywood approached literature, that, dated though it be, holds up better than what is offered now!
Allow this film, and these scenes, to work their magic on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Five years ago, darlings, I wrote about this very disturbing episode of "Law And Order, Criminal Intent," first broadcast in 2005. I recently had a chance to view it again, and some new observations popped up, which I thought I would share.
The actor pictured is Arye Gross, one of our great character actors. I am sure he has quite a range, but he is best known, to me, for playing sycophants and losers. Like Oscar Anderson, in the Cold Case episode, "The Dealer," who murders Donna D'Amico, played by Frankie Ingrassia, simply because she called him out for being the Office Dinosaur. And then there is his brilliant turn as Hubert Skoller in "No Exit." Hubert will be discussed, at length, because there is more to him than one realizes.
Just as there is more to this episode, which is why it merits more than one viewing.
Let's start with the opening, which is one of the most disturbing three minutes and fifty two seconds ever filmed. If watched initially, one thinks a group of young people are getting ready to go to a party.
If the viewer is clever enough, maybe when they stop at the train tracks, or when Drew tosses the keys, one can begin to catch on. But, what was interesting to me, this time around, is, if you watch carefully, knowing what the episode is about, the back story of why these young adults, who are in their late twenties to early thirties, have chosen to end their lives, is clearly outlined.
Time to examine them carefully--
Drew Esterhaus--A loser. Arrested in Oregon on a protest charge. He drops out of law school; another failure in his life. He moves about, ends up in Manhattan, living in the YMCA, eking out a barely tolerable existence at a dead end legal research job. I am not sure I agree with his decision; things can always improve, even if they take time, but that is me.
Nicholas Rozakis and Eugenie Crawford--They have to be jointly examined, because they are a couple. Their situation is simply an update of "Splendor In The Grass--" but that story carried out to the point where Deanie did not fail at her suicide attempt. Like Deanie's parents, Eugenie's feel she is too young to be so involved. And they say they will stop paying for her college education, if she continues seeing Nicholas. Nicholas, meanwhile, loves Eugenie, is clinically depressed, and cannot find a job. He has a history of a prior suicide attempt, when he was younger, and his mother died. Granted, things look bleak for them, but, with all the social service organizations in the city, something might have been worked out for them. But, again, that's me.
Wes Richmond--I really missed, big time, on this one. Ah, Wes. He is the one I wrote about, who wears glasses, and, in the last minutes, as the train approaches, bearing down, appears to be the only one having second thoughts on this, only it is too late now. The irony is, if any of these four have a valid reason for doing it, it is Wes. Though his situation can be argued, too. How could I have missed Wes' back story, but I did. He is seen, in a hospice, making a three month advance payment on his mother's care. The physician is not sure if she has even that long. Wes says he wants to cover her payment, as he will not be around for awhile. It is learned that his mother is in the final stages of Huntington's Disease. Wes has been tested, knows he will eventually get it. He was married, but got divorced; my guess is he pushed the wife away when he discovered the gene he carried, or she left him, because to have kids would not be right. He is alone, doomed, he feels, to an isolated life. So, I get Wes' reasoning. Where I disagree is, who knows what advances will be made in years to come; AIDS proved that. A married couple does not have to have children. And, lastly, while dying from Huntington's is far from pleasant, is it any worse than a train crashing into you? I do not care how quick death comes; in this case, before lapsing into unconsciousness, something is going to be felt, and I certainly would not want to feel that. I think Wes realized this, in his final moments. He is played by actor Zach Wegner, and his little vignette adds up to one brilliant performance. Which is why Wes is the one I felt most sympathetic toward.
Now, Carmine Ruggiero--Carmine turns out to be the story's first victim. Having only chatted online with these four on what he thinks is a party line to socially hook up, Carmine thinks he is out for an evening of fun. But, when the train comes bearing down, he realizes the mistake he has made--whether he knows he was set up is not made clear--but the fact is his shoes had glass shards on them, indicating he was trying to kick his way out of that car up till the moment of impact, because he was not part of this suicide pact.
Mr. Smythe--Now, I believe in Freedom Of Speech, but this kind of scum pushes the envelope too far. This loser runs a fictitious website called "Terminal Decision," for people who have made what he calls an "informed decision" to end their lives. Nice. He provides a chat room for hookups, a list of rooftops, bridges, high and low and deep places around New York City where people can off themselves. Real classy, huh? I looked online for a comparable site; I was unsuccessful, but let me tell you, there are enough sickos out there who would come up with this sort of thing, if they haven't already. Smythe is charged with four counts of manslaughter, and his website is shut down. And he is out of the story. Good riddance.
Leonard Timmons--He is the hateful corporate schmuck who runs the Longbridge Financial Company. He is played by Darrell Hammond, who, when I first viewed this, was not aware of his comedic talents. He is genuinely hateful; girls, if you have been in the workplace for at least ten years, you have run into one of these types. Self-entitled, arrogant, and drunk with power. Like I said, genuinely hateful, but Hammond tweaks a little fun into playing the role, stopping just short of Simon Legree. All that's missing is a moustache for him to twirl. But he succeeds in his role, and he does get his, though not enough to suit me.
Edie Elverson--She is the catalyst of the story. Her only appearance is in a photo of an actress purported to be her, posed like she has just taken a high jump from a building, which she has. Edie is Longbridge's initial suicide; she was being hounded mercilessly by Timmons, who seduced her, and when she wanted out, bore down on her mercilessly. She tried to complain, but that brings in Hubert Skoller, who will be dealt with shortly. Edie's parents try to file a wrongful death suit, which the company drops. Why Edie just did not quit--she could have lived with her parents for awhile-- is unclear to me, and, sadly, to brace herself for courage, she had to intoxicate herself so much to do the deed. Maybe her consciousness left her. If so, she left the world making a smart move. But suicide is not an answer. Again, that is me, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hubert Skoller--In the annals of the entire "Law And Order" franchise, he is one of the most interesting characters, because he is the perp and the victim. He is a disgusting sycophant, who sucks up to Timmons, doing anything he says, practically licking his boots, if not more, just to provide the affluent suburban lifestyle for himself and family. When Edie becomes a liability, it is Skoller who does Timmons' dirty work--looking the other way at Edie's complaints, forcing her to endure hostility and harassment to the point where she kills herself; when she does, he knows why, yet says nothing. He even has Carmine lie about Edie on a deposition. When Timmons asks Skoller to go to Edie's apartment to clean out her personal stuff which could implicate him, this cringing Uriah Heep does it. But, to his credit, this is all eating away at him; to quote Kendra Wilkinson, "The Devil is eating his soul!" Hubert may be remorseful, but he is not thinking rationally. If he can prove the company is a hostile work environment, he could help the Elversons win their lawsuit. So, he decides another suicide is in order. When clearing Edie's place, he discovers the website Terminal Decision, which she used to select her place of demise. Hubert needs to set up another suicide--even if it means actually killing someone. Impersonating Carmine on the website, he projects all his guilt--Edie's death, seeing her shadow at work--onto Carmine, as a back story. Only Carmine does not know he is being set up when he meets the four. But Hubert does. Already, this is a flawed plan. One suicide in exchange for another? When the scheme begins falling apart, so does Hubert, who begins to plan his own suicide. He is saved, but loses out by going to jail. I hope he is charged with Carmine's murder, because, by putting him in that car, that is just what he did!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, Hubert is both a perp, and a victim. Should one feel sorry for him? No, because he did this to himself, and killed another to achieve his supposed goal. Which was only righted by he and Timmons going to jail.
You have to hand it to this episode for tying all sorts of elements together--suicide pacts and websites, workplace bullying, sycophancy and greed. What a scope. But, for me, it is the Fatal Four--Drew, Wes, Eugenie and Nicholas, who break my heart. They had other choices open to them. Why couldn't they have realized that?
Make sure you do, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every single day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, June 22, 2017
As adults, we have to teach children about Stranger Danger. But both children, and adults, should be aware of Closest Case danger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There is no more dangerous person alive than a Closet Case Gay! As an example here, we have Glenn Drew, the perp of the "Cold Case" episode, " The Brush Man."
Roy W. Dunn was the title character. He gets to know the people on his route very well, some maybe a little too well. He becomes concerned about the Drew family, sensing, with his salesman instinct, that something is not right, there. It turns out Glenn physically abuses both his wife, Diane, and son, Kevin, because, in this pre-Stonewall age, he cannot be out and proud. Or, rather, he chooses to conform to societal norms, living a hypocritical life style, but taking it out on everyone around him. And when son Kevin spots Daddy in the park with another man...and then tells Roy....well, there goes Roy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fortunately, there are no statues of limitation to murder, so, decades later, Glenn gets his! Monte Markham plays the older Glenn, and he still conveys that self-righteous, conforming hypocrisy.
But it is William Ragsdale's performance as Glenn, in 1967, that paints the real picture.
"The Brush Man" is not quite one of the great "Cold Case" episodes, but pretty darn close!!!!!!!!!!!! Since we are talking about Closet Case Danger, the first question is how does one spot one of these types????????????
Darlings, it is all about exaggeration. Now, as campy as "Boys Beware!" was, the exaggerated posturings of the perps in that film should have clued the victims in to their homosexuality. But that was the point; the victims are so naïve, they do not see through the exaggeration; a kid today, forget it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Closet Cases do the reverse. Instead of flaming up, they try and present such a portrait of being straight that it is over play. Look at Glenn Drew. Pouchy and paunchy when young; no exercise, no athleticism. Always looking over his shoulder. Always having a deer-in- the headlights look in the eyes. Always criticizing those around him, who may have an interest in non-conformist things, like literature, or the arts.
As much as I hated Glenn, I had to hand it to William Ragsdale for his brilliant and accurate portrayal of a man caught in this position. Of course, if Glenn had had the guts, as many gay men did, he would not have married. And--I cannot emphasize this enough--if he was able to marry and consummate, then he should have stayed where he was. He made his bed, he made his conformist choice, now live with it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is why I despise Closet Cases. Like straight adulterers, they think they can have their cake and eat it, too. But because men who cheat with women is still more a society norm, the gay alternative is still looked, in some circles, even today, as one to be ashamed about. Yes, darlings, there are still Glenn Drews out there! Get rid of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Girls, if what I have described sounds like anyone you know, or your friends might know, steer clear. Closet Cases take down everyone in their path.
These bastards should be made to dance en pointe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The sacred name of Patricia Highsmith has been attached to this novel, by Katie Kitamura, but I thought more of John Lanchester's sadistically delightful "The Debt To Pleasure," which was nastier than this.
The book's title is double edged. An unnamed female narrator--hey, I have not seen that, since "Rebecca"!!!!--has separated, martially, from her husband, though the couple have not told anyone. Meanwhile, the husband, named Christopher, has fled to Greece, on the pretext of researching a book. Wife follows him to Greece--and can't find him? Where is Christopher? What happened to him? How? And by whom?
The book reads like a terse novella, and for those who are familiar with Highsmith, or Lanchester's work, what happened to Christopher is not surprising. The question that stays in my mind is how the opportunity came up. That is something I will be pondering for a long time.
There was some "Gone Girl" buzz surrounding this book, which drew me to it, though it is far more subtle than Gillian Flynn's novel. And nasty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That sense of delicious nastiness, from first sentence to last, is why readers should be encouraged to read this.
Hardly a ringing endorsement of marriage, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am right on time this week, with the Bitch Of The Week column, and the winner is one who has long had it coming.....Medea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As I was pondering writing this post, I had to wonder--was she actually the first bitch? What about Jocasta? Or Eve?
Some might say Eve, because she sent mankind on its downward spiral by eating that apple. The most famous fruit eater, next to Snow White!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, Jocasta having sex with her own kid---that IS pretty bad!
But Medea takes the prize, for committing infanticide! Murdering her two sons, just to spite Jason!
You can debate whether or not she was the first Bitch, but there is no denying she is this week's winner of the Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award, and, technically speaking, the first Family Annihilator, a crime often attributed to men!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That Medea was some piece of work! I am sure her punishment was swift!
And I personally don't believe she was as homely as Judith Anderson!!!!!!!!!
What better way to start the day, the one I consider to be the longest of the year, than by wishing MERYL STREEP a Happy Birthday? The Divine MERYL is 68 today, and we should all look as good, upon reaching that age!
There is no stopping her, and I don't see any signs of her giving up acting, yet. So, everyone wish MERYL a Happy Birthday, and do something celebratory in her honor. Wonder what MERYL herself will do???????????
May we all live to see her live, on stage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Meanwhile, have a great day, MERYL, on this, the longest day of the year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Today is, indisputably, the First Day Of Summer. I hope you are ready for it, and all it entails, and that the Summer of 2017 is memorable to all in the most positive ways imaginable.
Now, I was always taught that Summer begins on June 21. But that the longest day of the year is actually June 22, which also happens to be the Divine MERYL's birthday.
Yet, some out there feel today is the longest day, and they start shortening from here!
To start the season off properly, here is Freddy Cannon's 1962 classic, "June July, And August!"
Let the good times role, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Baby boomers of a certain age, who were in their mid to late teens, back in 1971, may recall a film called "The Beguiled." It was the beginning of Clint Eastwood's transition from an action figure into a serious actor, and later director. The original had not only a Gothic grittiness, highly accurate of its time and place--rural Virginia, post Civil War--but a dream cast, consisting of, in addition to Eastwood, Geraldine Page, Elizabeth Hartman, Pamelyn Ferdin, and, oh my God....Darleen Carr!!!!!!!!!!!! That's right, girls!!!!!!!!!!! Sister of Charmian!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now, Sofia Coppola, who did pretty well by "The Virgin Suicides," is going to present a remake of this film, with a cast featuring Nicole Kidman, Kursten Dunst, and Elle Fanning!!!!!!!!!!! And Colin Farrell, in the Eastwood role. Sophia has the casting idea right, but, from what I have seen of the visuals, she is going for a "Picnic At Hanging Rock" approach that may turn this tale on its head. I will cover the movie, of course, when I see it, but I will not be doing that till early next week, because, this coming Monday, BAM is showing the original, which I have only seen in pieces, so I want to get the benefit of comparing both versions.
As for the novel, it is deliciously nasty, in a subtle sort of way.
The recipe for "The Beguiled" is simple.
Take one part "Lord Of The Flies," by William Golding.
Take one part of "We Have Always Lived In The Castle," by Shirley Jackson.
Add a Southern Gothic setting, in the nineteenth century.
Combine with a reputable girls school.
Mix, and VOILA! "The Beguiled!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Depending on how one interprets things, this story could be viewed in two ways--as a male castration fantasy, or a darker exploration of feminine psychology. Sexual tensions and repressions run rampant in this, though I could not find any evidence of lesbianism.
The story is simple--a Yankee deserter is found by one of the girls in the woods, near the school. She goes for help, the women respond, but, as the soldier's stay lengthens, tensions and repressions erupt and boil over, and the table is turned, on both sides!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If not for the remake of the film, Mr. Cullinan's novel would be all but forgotten. One reason for this is its fatal flaw. The author chooses to write each chapter from the viewpoint of each woman in the school. The problem is, while his narrative is driving, he lacks the skill to write in different voices, so that all the chapters sound the same, when they shouldn't. This flaw, I believe is what cost the novel the status it should have.
His insights into feminine psychology are so diabolical I had to wonder, at times, if they bordered on the misogynistic. But I will leave that for the reader to decide.
Girls, I am telling you, had I read this novel when I was of the age, I would not have wanted to go to Miss Porter's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And if you think Mean Girls are a product of our times, wait till you meet the young ladies of the Farmington School For Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As some of you may know, Paula Zahn is back on the air, and while her hair, attire and delivery have not improved, her material has. The portrait of Christopher Righetti, who, as a stocky, rather homely teen, trolled malls in Washington Township, New Jersey, until he succeeded in murdering and raping Kim Montelaro on August 31, 1976, speaks of a serial killer in the making.
That he had been seen on other occasions by women fortunate enough to have escaped him, trolling, stalking, going so far as to say to older women, "Want to get together?," speaks of trouble.
What's the matter, you dick, too ugly to get a date? You look even worse forty years later.
And you know something? I have a hunch Kim may not have been the first. If an investigation is done, going back to Righetti's earliest trolling days, and missing girls turn up, chances are they ran into him.
I would never recommend this slime for parole. Having tasted the fruits of serial killer-dom, he is just salivating, and, should he go free, you can bet it will happen again.
Jersey has enough problems! It does not need this guy added to the mix!
Keep him locked up, dolls, so you can all stay safe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In one of my more recent posts, I spoke of last week as being one of graciousness. That not only included Marcia Kramer, but Musical Theater Legend, Neva Small.
As reported here, Neva narrated the presentation of "Henry, Sweet Henry," at Feinstein's 54 Below. She stepped into Legend status, when she sang "I Wonder How It Is," in this show, back in 1967.
Of course, I have the show on CD, and listen to it periodically. I also owned it on vinyl, and it was one of the few I kept. So, David, thinking ahead, took it with him to work, so we
would have it for that evening.
And sure, enough, the charming and gracious Neva Small signed my Original Cast Album of "Henry, Sweet Henry!" I am sure I was the only one there who had one, and the only one who could have sang the entire score!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Neva is not only a legend, but gracious. She is the best kind of celebrity there is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Keep up the good work, Neva!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, June 19, 2017
Summer, which I view as the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day, is when I do lots of heavy duty reading. Of course, since retiring January 20, I have been in a reading frenzy. So much so that, I declare, my speed has picked up. I am reading as fast as I can, so fast I worry about what the next book will be.
Most people, upon retiring, say that now they are going to read all the books they promised themselves to read. This generally includes "War And Peace," "Anna Karenina," "Remembrance Of Things Past," "Moby- Dick," "Middlemarch," "Bleak House," "One Hundred Years Of Solitude," "The Sound And The Fury," "The Aeneid," and "Women In Love."
This list is typical of most retirees' aspirations. The problem with me, girls, is I have already read them all; many, more than once.
So, I am concentrating on books that genuinely interest me, not that feel an obligation to read. Since I am over sixty, and Time becomes increasingly important, especially as to how well and wisely I use it, I have resigned myself to NOT reading the following, and I can live with it. I will go over the list, to explain why, and to maybe provide some of you out there to read something I have given up on. If so inclined, go ahead!
3. "Gravity's Rainbow," by Thomas Pynchon--Hey, no one can call me a Literary Cream Puff! I tried this in my 20's, when those of my age were still struggling with nursery rhymes, and the sophistication of "Mary Poppins!" I have actually read "Mason And Dixon," and, at a very low point in my life, while living in Woodside, Queens, a spinster, with the ceiling of my living room caving in, forcing me to live in my bedroom for fourteen weeks, till things got fixed, I read Pynchon's "Against The Day," in a single week. It was a sweeping, almost Jules Verne-like adventure that absorbed me so completely it took me out of the depression I was in, took me away from a world I wanted out of, at the time, and turned out to be one of the best reading experiences I have ever had. So, go easy on me, dolls; I have earned the right to bypass this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!4. "The Gormenghast Novels/Trilogy," by Mervyn Peake-- I am convinced this series is favored by advanced techno and fantasy geeks. Sure, I read the Tolkien Trilogy--twice, in fact!!!!!!!!!--with a sense of generational obligation; the difference being I actually enjoyed it, and it got better on a second, latter day, reading! These tomes I have been aware of since college, and have been floating in my consciousness, ever since. About fifteen years ago, a fellow I knew loaned me his three volume set--a tome, containing all three novels; what a weight that was!!!!!!!--and I tried!!!!!!! I REALLY tried!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mervyn's last name may be Peake, but his words did not peak my interest at all! So, farewell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5. "A Dance To The Music Of Time," by Anthony Powell--When the Biography Bookshop was in its original location, on the corner of Bleecker and Charles Streets, across from the original Magnolia Bakery, and I would visit each every Friday evening of my spinster youth, this book would stare me in the face from its place on the shelf, as if challenging me! Ever since Marc Jacobs replaced the bookstore, and it moved further east on Bleecker, I don't get to visit it much, and so that challenge has faded for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I really don't miss it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
6. All Of Trollope--Hey, it's not like I have read none! I adored "Can You Forgive Her?" and "Phineas Finn," so I have hope I may read the rest of "The Palliser Novels." But his entire oeuvre?????????? Not a chance! I would have had to have began this project decades ago!!!!!!!!!! But I do hold out hope for "The Pallisers!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
7. "House Of Leaves," by Mark Z. Danielewski--Another book that I am sure is a cult favorite with techno geeks. A mammoth, gimmicky thousand page plus tome, combining text and visuals, it almost foreshadowed the Graphic Novel. To excess is how I felt, every time I would thumb through it, contemplating whether or not I should attempt it. Time, like fame, is fleeting, and I cannot waste it masochistically reading something I may ultimately dislike! I have done it, when younger! And what did I get for it? Nothing! I have too much to live for, so I will pass on this one!
8. "The Recognitions," by William Gaddis--You know, if I were going to devote my life to reading exceptionally long novels, which would take the rest of what time I have left here on earth, this would be among the top five. I have nursed a healthy curiosity about this one, but have never had the fortitude to pick this up. Am I making a mistake? If so, someone out there make a case for me to read it! I just don't know! Maybe it is because I finally don't feel the need to prove myself to anyone--even myself!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
9. "Harlot's Ghost," by Norman Mailer--Norman Mailer, as far as I am concerned, wrote two genuinely good books, which should be read--his very first novel, "The Naked And The Dead," and his latter day work, "The Executioner's Song." The last I have read twice!!!!!!!!!! But Norman Mailer is a mixed bag; some of his stuff is God awful, and, despite its cheesy title, 1425 pages of a novel dealing with the CIA is just too much for me! Maybe this was a literary pissing contest with William T. Vollman!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whom I will also never read again!
I cannot believe "Harlot's Ghost" was first published 26 years ago, back in 1991. I still belonged to the Book Of The Month Club, and, when first published, it was the featured item! One time, I forgot to say I did not want it, and it came! So, I sent it back, with a note, saying I did not want "Harlot's Ghost!" Still, they kept sending me the damn book! By the third time, it took a close to nasty phone call, convincing them I did not want this book at all! And that STILL goes for today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
10. "The Tale Of Genji," by Murasaki Shikibu--It almost pains me to list this one, darlings, because it so widely regarded as a classic of Japanese literature, to the extent of being regarded, in some quarters, as the First Novel, that I feel a bit of guilt over listing it. I have perused it; the text is concentrated and involved, as might be expected. Do I want to get myself involved, at this point? I don't think so, though, of all the titles listed, it is the one I most regret. Like "Finnegan's Wake," I wish I had had an opportunity for a class or seminar, while still in college, to undertake this masterwork!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, that is my list! See how it compares with yours, see if you have read any of these, or can make a case for why I should read any one of them! Meanwhile, here are two holdouts I am hoping to get through!
1. "Don Quixote," by Miguel De Cervantes--I have been told Edith Grossman's translation is very accessible. And, no, "Man Of La Mancha" is not a favorite musical of mine. I acknowledge its artistry, but I can't go so far as to LIKE it!!!!!!!!!!!!! So, that has nothing to do with my desire to read it. It has more to do with its probably being the last accessible classic I will ever lay eyes on--if I do.2. "The Instructions," by Adam Levin--Look at its size! This alone challenges me! So, is the fact I know no one who has actually read it, though Miriam at Three Lives, whose literary acumen I adore, has encouraged me to undertake it. And I hear it is amazingly funny! So, I will put this on my hope list, as well! Again, as with the ten before these, tell me what you think as to why I should especially give these a try!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Something to chew over for the day, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!